The Guide towards Preservation
DDT, or dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, was a popular insecticide misused by both private industries and the United States Government back in 1950s. The use of DDT ranged from protecting crops to bug spray. While trying to combat mosquito infestations, the state of Massachusetts at the time sent around planes to spray DDT through fields. When DDT not only killed the mosquitoes but also the cordial songbirds in her area, Olga Huckins fervently wrote to dear friend and conservationist Rachel Carson about the issue. Inspired, Rachel Carson published her most momentous work, Silent Spring. Carson’s book, for which she spent countless hours researching, critiques the haphazard use of pesticides, such as DDT, and the torrential environmental impact that they have. Carson uses the book to attack the chemical industry and the reckless misinformation substantial private corporations presented to the public. These large companies attacked Carson and her work, going as far as spending $250,000 on a movement to disparage her. However, no sum of funds was able to compete with the immense influence that Carson’s work had. Silent Spring spurred the environmental movement not just in the US, but throughout the entire world. This inspired environmental movement would eventually elicit the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. In the light of it all, her work provoked the passing of legislation that banned the use of DDT nationwide, much to Huckins’ pleasure. Although Carson passed just two years after publishing Silent Spring, due credit was given when President Jimmy Carter presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Carson’s efforts not only brought up controversy, but also brought great acclaim. If not for her work, the entire world would have been suffering from immense environmental damage. Just by writing a book, Carson was able to revolutionize the American mindset on the environment and spark the large-scale awareness movements so prevalent today.
The Enchantress of Numbers
When the modern notion of a computer was not yet popular, the theory behind it slowly developed in the mind of Charles Babbage. His work on this “Analytical Engine” was deeply studied by Ada Lovelace, a close friend and mentee. Although the engine itself was never built, its designs contained the modern elements of what we now consider a computer. When Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea wrote a short article on Babbage’s Analytical Engine, Babbage recognized Lovelace’s undying intrigue in the machine and asked her to translate and expand on the article. Lovelace came back with notes and ideas of her own, three times longer than the original article itself. This document later became published as “Sketch of the Analytical Engine, with Notes from the Translator.” In these extensive ‘notes’, Lovelace not only describes the machine, but expands on its possible uses. Lovelace was able to recognize the versatility of the Analytical Engine, including its potential to create music and manipulate symbols, that even Babbage and his assistants could not point out. Likewise, Lovelace’s notes also include what is now known as the first computer program. Although Babbage had written a few programs of his own, none were as pervasive and exhaustive as those composed by Lovelace. Lovelace’s computer programs were so influential that they were a key component in Alan Turing’s creation of the first computer in the 1940s. While Lovelace may not have been able to see her programs in action, or even work with a finished computer, her contributions pioneered the field of computer science. Her work was an indispensable stepping-stone to the development of computers.